Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario


Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

Shaw Festival's Beyond the Stage teen workshops

  • ArtsBuild Ontario is hosting “Using Data to Find Your Renter Audience” free webinar today.
  • Playwrights Guild of Canada’s “Aspire Together: Through Voice, Place and Play” conference runs June 1 to June 4 in Brantford and Hamilton.
  • Upcoming Shaw Beyond the Stage workshops for teens include “Musical Theatre” (June 3) and “Story Theatre” (June 10) in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Change, Growth, and Looking Forward with Anticipation and Optimism

Mary Jane Boon, Norah Paton, Sophie Mercer, Bruce Pitkin
at the Theatre Ontario Annual General Meeting
“The year that has just passed was one of change and growth for Theatre Ontario as an organization, allowing us to look forward to 2017 with anticipation and optimism,” said Mary Jane Boon, Interim President of the Theatre Ontario Board of Directors to the members who gathered at Ottawa Little Theatre on May 20 for Theatre Ontario's Annual General Meeting.


We welcome our newly elected Board members for the 2017 to 2019 two-year terms on our Board of Directors. Lily Baird, Leah Dietrich, Ray Jacildo, Eyal Katz, and Gil Katz were elected to their second terms; Bodene Corbitt and Vera N. Held (appointees to the Board during the past year) were elected to their first terms; and we welcome new Board member Carri Johnson who was elected to her first term.  Meet our newly elected Board members for 2017.

They join Mary Jane Boon, Betsy Chaly, Elley-Ray, Linda Lloyd-McKenzie, George Randolph, and Neil Wiancko who were elected to two-year terms in 2016.  Meet our current Board of Directors.

We also thanked Helen Landry of Sudbury, who had reached her term limit as a member of our Board of Directors.

We also heard from Norah Paton and Sophie Mercer, two of our Youth Advisory Committee members with roots in the Ottawa and Eastern Ontario theatre community.

Monday, 29 May 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of May 29

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Saint Joan at Shaw Festival
The company
Photo by Emily Cooper
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Eastern Ontario

Jun. 1, Little Shop of Horrors at Belleville Theatre Guild [with a preview on May 30]
Jun. 2, Ragtime at Orpheus Musical Theatre Society (Ottawa)

In South Central Ontario

Jun. 2, Outlaw at The Curtain Club (Richmond Hill) [with a preview on Jun. 1]

In Southwestern Ontario

May 29, Twelfth Night at Stratford Festival
May 30, Guys and Dolls at Stratford Festival
May 31, HMS Pinafore at Stratford Festival
Jun. 1, Romeo and Juliet at Stratford Festival
Jun. 1, Ned Durango Comes to Big Oak at Simcoe Little Theatre
Jun. 2, Timon of Athens at Stratford Festival
Jun. 2, The 39 Steps at Drayton Entertainment: St. Jacobs Country Playhouse [with previews from May 31]
Jun. 3, Treasure Island at Stratford Festival
Jun. 3, The School for Scandal at Stratford Festival

In Toronto

May 29, Confidential Musical Theatre Project at Marion Abbott Productions
May 31, Dinner with Goebbels at ACT II Studio Theatre
Jun. 1, The Youth / Elders Project at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre [with a preview on May 31]
Jun. 1, The 12th InspiraTO Festival at Theatre InspiraTO
Jun. 2, The Glass Menagerie at Scarborough Theatre Guild

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Oh Canada, We Sing for Thee at Port Stanley Festival Theatre
Photo by Nathan Anselmo

In Central Ontario

Jun. 1, Four Play: A Showcase of Play Readings at South Simcoe Theatre (Cookstown)
Jun. 1, The Miracle Worker at Owen Sound Little Theatre
Jun. 2, Alice and Henry: Into the Wild at Blackhorse Village Players (Tottenham) [with a preview on May 31] 


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 26 May 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


Migrations


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

You can also receive news from Theatre Ontario every month by email. Our archives are online and the May issue is now available.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Celebrating Learning Opportunities for Community Theatre Practitioners at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Theatre Ontario Festival features a variety of educational events for the passionate, dedicated community theatre practitioners. Highlights included:

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of “Lucy” at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Sault Theatre Workshop's production of Lucy
by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Annette G. Procunier of Sault Theatre Workshop’s production of Lucy by Damien Atkins (representing QUONTA, the northeastern Ontario community theatre association.)
  • Home theatre has a 20-foot proscenium, 16-feet deep (with 4-feet added for this production); seats 90 people around tables with dessert service
  • Found the play at last year’s Theatre Ontario Festival; director responded to portrayal of autism in a positive light; autism is a significant part of her life: works with people with autism, family
  • Strength of the play is that text invites examination; interested in the fate of the characters after the play is over
  • Seemed like they performed originally in a more intimate space: things happen in small, intimate ways; does the larger environment help the actors?
  • Furniture C.S. would have benefited from places to create triangular/diagonal action to enhance the space; Morris’s office D.S.L. was an excellent choice: the cold side of the stage (theory is that since English reads from left to right, that is the way the eye looks as well, makes us uncomfortable) 
  • Lucy had her own spotlight, effective choice
  • Set design had black and white squares: Director wanted it to be unfinished, with gaps; White panels turned around to show us Lucy’s drawings—in the original production they looked too good to be Lucy’s work; drawings may have benefited from more colours; What about Vivian drawing too?—showing the growing closeness of their relationship
  • Projections represented outside; were intended to be used in the exterior scene
  • D.S. was used only for Vivian and Gavin’s opening scene; compromise in moving from space to space
  • Lucy’s hoodie: kept us from seeing her face a little too much
  • Sound design featured strong choices: not pastoral, music depicted a different living environment
  • Autism sign on the set drew our eye because of the colour
  • Company worked strongly on creating character; sometimes heard to hear the performers (e.g. in the opening scene: “How long?” “A year” – this was critical information we needed to hear better)
  • Action was most poignant and provocative when the vocal work was at its clearest and strongest
  • Vivian and Julia had a believable relationship; Julia’s intensity rose her with voice
  • Characters are always trying to drive action, or convey information: What is it you want / From who? In rehearsal, play with driving the action, push further so the director can rein you back
  • Vivian leaving her child with Gavin is an unusual choice: there is a lot to be mined in their relationship
  • Intensity when Gavin returned was successful—his stakes were really high
  • Challenge in climactic scene, both Morris and Julia felt they would have a normal response to intercede; especially since we have seen Julia intercede in the past. They didn’t want to draw focus—perhaps Julia could have tried to intercede and Morris stopped her. Actors should never feel uncomfortable in a scene; play around with the situation: interaction between Vivian, Gavin and Lucy was strong, but how to Julia and Morris fit in?
  • Lucy was making her debut: Fun and difficult challenge for her: character is closed-off, actress is touchy, makes eye contact, etc.; she appreciated how the director helped her make her monologues feel real, less “fake/dramatic”
  • Lucy was successful in being on stage, without being involved in the action
  • Vivian’s truthfulness to her character’s “quirks”—the moment with the paint was a strong moment of connection between the two of them; similarly the touching of their foreheads was played truthfully
  • Lighting and sound helped us visualize an internal situation; problem with dark spaces—seemed to be a problem throughout the Festival; actors need to keep their heads up and lighting designers should raise level slightly: atmosphere is important, but seeing the actors is more important
  • When Lucy gives Vivian the fossil, the audience needed to see it more clearly: hold it up, be theatrical rather than realistic
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the members of the company and the adjudicator. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of "Outside Mullingar" at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Toronto Irish Players' production of Outside Mullingar
by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Annette G. Procunier of Toronto Irish Players’ production of Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley (representing ACT-CO, the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario.)
  • Script was chosen from their reading group; usually produce Irish-written works, but wanted to explore something from the diaspora
  • Perform at Alumnae Theatre, a converted fire-hall with 146 seats
  • Production had an economical approach to design; the two houses between Act 1 and Act 2 were alike yet different, frame set pieces to suggest
  • Use of cyclorama colours helped provide mood
  • Everything on the stage allowed us to become absorbed into the action, while using areas to give us sense of other places
  • It’s a play of alternatives: holding onto the past, letting that eat up the present; waiting for something else rather than living in the now
  • Wonderful, simple choice to show the passage of time by Anthony moving back and forth across the front of the stage, changing coats to show change of time
  • Constant drinking during Act 2 was a wonderful choice; the characters didn’t drink a great deal, allowed that kind of conversation to start, in the script the scene rings a bit false without it; when he gets a bottle reflects change in relationship
  • Entrances into the house lacked specificity: clarity of front entrance and the back entrance
  • Singing by Rosemary and Aoife of “Wild Mountain Thyme” in the scene change helped inform the characters’ relationship—while functionally serving the set/costume change: we stayed in the world of the play
  • Tony and Aoife’s scene: We believe their long shared history; they sat without a lot of blocking which was a good, risky choice; trusted in the text
  • Anthony’s costumes could have been crustier-looking
  • The physicality of Tony’s death: Director didn’t want it to be melancholy, Tony was a proud man bringing strength to the end, would have stood if he could; Legitimate choice, but suggestion is then to take more time, so that he would read less energetic
  • Showing the ring in the final image of Act 1: make it clear that something is going to happen, especially since dialogue makes clear he has done nothing with the ring in three years
  • Tony’s scene was a poignant exploration of “in love”
  • First-class acting—performers had talent and technique
  • Act 2 was a tour-de-force: Every comment had a reaction, nothing was without a response; took time, trusting audience to go with performers, kept audience engaged
  • Different reaction at home, primarily an Irish audience with bigger laughs on Tony and Aoife talking about places where they come from, but other lines got laughs for the first time in Ottawa
  • Good sense of them as neighbours, plausible that they would wait this long
  • Actors were at their finest trying to “get it out: Anthony’s line “I believe that I am a honeybee” then we see Rosemary trying to process it; similarly “Yes, I’m a virgin” / “We can fix that” was beautifully played—characters were self-conscious but actors were not
  • First performed in October/November; began remount on April 9
  • Lighting designer couldn’t remember all the original cues—always the biggest challenge since costumes are the same, set fundamentally the same, lighting has different instruments, hung differently, not enough rehearsal time: it was clear what were mistakes in execution (rather than design)
  • Similarly, sound levels will be different in new venue
  • As a designer/director you must nitpick (“pick the fly shit out of the pepper”) but audiences won’t when they are absorbed in the production
  • Re-visiting the work meant finding MORE: exploring more; seeing more things, knowing the characters more; things you had forgotten you re-discovered in a new way; director’s instruction was to “re-live”, not re-produce; positive vibes bringing it back into the working space after a successful run
  • A specific example was the timing in the Guinness sequence; the moments were refined; “stage business” is good when it allows the characters time to react
  • Repetition is human nature, character’s repetitive quicks help make characters seem more truthful
  • Aoife walking away in her final scene with Rosemary, movement showed us that she was pronounced, her hip was causing problems, her death was imminent
  • Anthony and Tony relationship: nagged each other, but there was no sense that he was going to leave
  • Director acknowledged Producer as unsung hero, taking care of everyone including the Director
  • Applauded their commitment to craft
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the members of the company and the adjudicator. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of “Better Living” at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Ghost Light Players' production of Better Living
by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Annette G. Procunier of Ghost Light Players’ production of Better Living by George F. Walker (representing the Western Ontario Drama League—WODL)
  • Ghost Light Players is a two-year-old company; no permanent home—they enjoy moving to new spaces; found kindred spirits
  • Director enjoys black comedy, absurdist theatre, “meaty” work: opportunities in George F. Walker; this was an exciting challenge
  • Originally performed at the Bank Theatre in Leamington; seats 150 and they averaged about 75 people per performance which exceed their expectations—proscenium stage, braced set pieces, manual lighting board, two-channel sound system; 40 minutes away from their home in Windsor
  • Texts like this from the late-70s/early-80s are resonating again with political extremism coming back; issues of family violence have not gone away
  • Not an easy play to watch, learning curve for the audience; there will be people in the audience who have lived it; depended upon the truthfulness of the presentation
  • Structure of text can be problematic: Opens with exposition, raucously funny, initially the father isn’t so dreadful—he seems benign; but evil hides in banality
  • Text doesn’t articulate why the women get sucked back in; people do return to abuse, but it is a sparsely-written transition—all plays have difficulty in their writing, and the challenge is to figure them out
  • Production was abundantly truthful—committed to believability and taking us into the world (and we didn’t want to be there)
  • Set was evocative, audience members went up to the edge of the stage to see the detail
  • Give your tech people all the time in the world—they get far less of it; in tech rehearsals, actors need to sit there and shut up
  • Furniture arrangement: Sofa was parallel to the edge of the stage, with the chair perpendicular; if the chair was angle, we would have seen the person sitting in the chair much better
  • Kitchen rocking chair interfered with them using the space; also, it read more like a living room rocking chair; it was Nora’s mother’s chair yet she never sat in it (actor had backstory to explain that, but audience didn’t see it)
  • Loved the characters eating; it demonstrated compulsive behaviour but the heads down sometimes made it hard to hear
  • Costumes and cell-phone made it clear it wasn’t set in the 1980s since the set (out of necessity) couldn’t tell us that
  • Actors should take time with their initial entrance: they are the action and we want to absorb who they are; give us an action that allows us a second to see them (e.g. Junior’s entrance—wanted him to flaunt while not seeing Jack in the kitchen; could have been achieved if Jack was entirely U.S. and Junior flaunted to audience rather than mirror)
  • Wonderful job of truthful movement, especially with a text requiring so much physicality
  • Relationship between Gail and Junior was extremely clear about who was in charge, his naivete was finely acted
  • Theatre is about truth not reality: believable people are essential and the actors committed to that; family members’ responses were distinct from each other
  • Nora’s first entrance in full regalia was successful: actress created a world and lived in it; always be careful vocally: when voices rise, they can emphasize vowels at the expense of consonants (particularly for women)
  • Risk-taking: characters/actors push each other to the limit, listened to each other as thought things were fresh and new
  • Occasionally kept playing through the laughs; this is not stand-up comedy with punchlines (like a comedian telling jokes for predictable laughs), but the humour is essential to the work
  • Pace and internal rhythm was good
  • Nora clearly knew who Tom/Tim was, but decided to live their relationship in another way; it was scary; they talked through the fight scene and changed it a lot—talking is good, but performers can be hurt and should take the time to rehearse it; similarly the Tom/Jack fight was creepy
  • Maryann had excellent flightiness
  • The gun was not seen clearly by the audience; a stage gun would have had more impact than the sound effect
  • The motorcycle helmet gag was a hoot; succeeded because there was no self-consciousness
  • The final family scene left us with question of what happened to him, and then he comes in with the television—would his entrance have been more effective if he came in from the backyard, audience focus would go to him; they had tried that choice, but decided they preferred him sneaking into the family portrait—execution didn’t read as “sneaking”, read as he belonged there; what was the significance of the television? He will show them what’s going on in the world, part of his control over them
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the members of the company and the adjudicator. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.

Highlights of the Detailed Adjudication of "Waiting for the Parade" at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017

Northumberland Players' production of Waiting for the Parade
by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Highlights of the detailed adjudication by Annette G. Procunier of Northumberland Players’ production of Waiting for the Parade by John Murrell (representing the Eastern Ontario Drama League—EODL)
  • Group performed originally in a 50-seat venue, the Firehall Theatre
  • Director took on play from her interest in subject matter, heard stories of life at home during Second World War
  • Play has interesting sensibility: written by a man, not Canadian- or British-born
  • Takes place over six years, women age over the course of the play, challenge for company is depicting that evolution over time
  • Established the character types, but then gnawed away at the edges
  • Beautiful palette for the show
  • Music was evocative, changed with the time of the play
  • Props were excellent, but the only one that was unclear was the teddy bear in Catherine’s area: director intended to depict her child, problem was that it was not engaged enough in the action, seemed ornamental rather than useful
  • Discussed differences between symbols and images: symbols are what they are (e.g. a cross is a clear Christian symbol) whereas images objects/sound/actions represent something
  • Set used platforms/risers for certain areas: Marta’s area was quite full
  • Lights are always a challenge in Festivals, especially with this show’s women of varying heights
  • Janet’s hat had an ornamental object on top; she needed to keep her head up so that her face would not go into the shadow of the object—audiences need to see faces in order to hear them
  • Each actress has an internal rhythm that helped distinguish the characters; they took time and were willing to react, there was never an disengaged moment
  • When the characters were not in the scene, they were in their own world, not frozen (e.g. Marta was sewing by hand, referenced by her father for delicate work, the action draws us to her)
  • Would Janet’s area with the piano have benefited from being on a riser/platform?  She is the “bossy boots” and would give her height and status
  • Catherine’s playing area was S.C. and concerning: most central – does that mean hers is the most important story?
  • Catherine’s story would play well S.R., delving into love and sexuality
  • Had a riser U.S.C. – originally 3 feet high, but then stairs would be needed and would get in the way of the playing areas, lowered
  • Clear white light isolation on Marta while she was talking to the officials was extremely effective
  • Another effective scene was the fight between Catherine and Janet—rehearsing violence before the show is helpful so that nothing is left to chance
  • Discussed choice in the blocking that Janet backed up when Catherine challenged her: it weakened her position; the intention could have been achieved by having her turn and walk away instead, it becomes Janet’s choice to move and remains vulnerable, Catherine then has to move to her—keeps the stakes up
  • Eve did not caricature, which can be a trap with that character; she is naïve but not silly—as a teacher, she would have been eaten alive if she was silly; an excellent example of non-caricature was in the “practicing blackout” scene
  • Monologue styles—performers should always think about who you are talking to when addressing the audience
  • Good transition of scenes with motion taking us from moment-to-moment
  • Costumes were lively, shoes were terrific—showed evolution of characters, especially Janet and Catherine
  • Picnic was staged on the U.S.C. platform: In their home theatre, you cannot see scenes on the floor; may have benefitted here from being D.S.
  • Play was funny, without being over-the-top (Margaret’s “I can’t stand that woman” was an example)
  • Marta and Janet’s confrontation: it was indistinct where Janet was coming from, as she left in a different direction: the narrowness of the space meant that it was played very close together, environment did not allow characters to have appropriate responses (e.g. Janet not looking  at her)
  • First entrances are always significant; the opening dances helped establish the relationships
  • Eve’s reactions to Harry were good—textual question is “Why did she marry him?”
  • Janet may be most “under-written” character in the play; her relationship with Jack is not established early, her monologue is where she articulates why she does what she does
  • Ways to make Janet more aggressive through exploration of vocal work: sharpness/emphatic comes in consonants (“Nice and tight”)
  • How nice that Janet could actually play the piano—music could be mournful when needed
  • The dancing in the final scene could emphasize more of their relationships and its evolution
  • Similarly, the singing evolves over the course of the show—the first time it is perfunctory, but it becomes better as we explore their personalities; Marta sings “Lili Marlene” differently (“It’s one of their songs”); unclear how they heard her sing: if she sang from her space in the set, it conveys the sense of her music disrupting the others (emphasized in her confrontation with Janet); Would that split focus?
  • In an episodic script like this one, find ways to connect the dots
  • The drinking scene following the news that Catherine’s husband was missing: Margaret had an effective balance of sympathetic without condoning, taking and giving focus effectively; Drunkenness was believable, not burlesque; Catherine stayed seated giving her an opportunity to show lack of focus concentration; Marta turned her glass over when she was done drinking—good choice as very European; Catherine’s fall with her dress flailing up was well executed and committed
  • D-Day Monologues: Scene could have benefitted from taking greater risks in soundscape so that the battle sounds were 10-times louder by the end, forcing us into the horrible situation for a brief time
  • Audience was listening intensely; credit to performers
  • For actors, risk-taking should involve pushing scenes to the limit in order to find the boundary; you can always pull a scene back but can’t force it—for Catherine, successful examples were the fight with Janet, the drinking scene, the heartbreak of Margaret writing with the eraser-end of the pencil; similarly for Margaret painting her own legs—showed us that she had made the emotional leap
  • Find everything in the script, all of the uncomfortable places
As always, this is my best effort to record the conversation at the Detailed Adjudication, with apology for any misrepresentations of the ideas of the members of the company and the adjudicator. Corrections and clarifications are welcome in the comments.

Highlights of the Festival Workshop “Playwright-in-Person” with Erin Shields

Erin Shields was our Playwright-in-Person at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017. She spoke about the staging of sex and violence, talking about the “contract of imagination” between performers and audience (“a space that should vibrate”)  and the crucial role of audience imagining.  

Readings from her work
  • If We Were Birds – rape used as a weapon of war, inspired by Greek tragedy; in the scene the actors didn’t touch each other, the language depicted the rape
  • Montparnasse – Exploring the ownership of the female form in art, wanted to own and recontextualize, live nudity
  • Soliciting Temptation – Imagines a man with a child prostitute, doesn’t define the relationship, subverts our expectations
  • Beautiful Man – Incessant images in television; reversed the gender roles: males as foils, females as central to narratives
Highlights of the Q&A
  • She loves the canon, and wants to find ways to contextualize it for contemporary and inclusive values
  • Discussed the use of trigger warnings
  • Content is essential to form
  • Even if a work is unpublished, don’t hesitate to reach out to the playwright for performance rights; too often in Canadian theatre, plays never get a second production
Playwright-in-Person brings a professional playwright to Festival communities for script readings, Q&A, and more. Playwright-in-Person is made possible through PlayConnect—a grant from the Playwrights Guild of Canada, funded by the Canada Council.

Highlights of the Festival Workshop on “Improv for Actors”, with Laura Hall

Laura Hall led our Festival workshop on “Improv for Actors”.  Here are a few of the highlights of the workshop.
"Improv for Actors" workshop with Laura Hall
at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 in Ottawa
  • Participants offering a stretch for the group while they introduced themselves
  • Exercise: Clap focus – Made eye contact with someone in the circle, passed a clap, then added their names
  • Exercise: “I know we both like…” – Approached the person and try to find something to finish the sentence (found that you could respond to facial expressions if they would accept/reject; laughter on making connections because comedy6 comes from truth)
  • Exercise: “Whoosh” – Paying attention to where the energy is in the room, passing an invisible ball while vocalizing a whoosh, then adding elements that would change direction, skip people, add performative elements, etc. – keeping focus, attention, etc.
  • Exercise: Loserball – Throwing a different ball, never catching it, cheering mistakes – building up as a team
  • Exercise: Proverb – Each person would add one word at a time to create a proverb
  • Exercise: Story – Same, but when coming to a natural conclusion, adding a period while starting a new sentence
  • Explored fundamentals of improv: In pairs, tried three scenarios of “planning a party” where every response began with 1) “No, but…” / “Yes, but…” / “Yes, and…”
  • Explored conveying information in three sentences: Again in pairs, first person who define who they are, second person would define where they are, first person would establish the agreed upon action going forward
  • Exercise: Scene Painting – given the suggestion of a place, performers would try to feed all five senses about the place

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Theatre Ontario's Summer Theatre Intensive

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Shaw Festival’s “Stage Skills for Adults: Voice and Speech” workshop is on May 26 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
  • The Shaw is also hosting “Scene Study Sunday” on May 28.
  • ArtsBuild Ontario is hosting “Using Data to Find Your Renter Audience” free webinar on May 31.
  • Playwrights Guild of Canada’s “Aspire Together: Through Voice, Place and Play” conference runs June 1 to June 4 in Brantford and Hamilton.
  • The Shaw’s Beyond the Stage workshop for teens on Musical Theatre is on June 3 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of May 23

ONstage Now Playing in Eastern Ontario
Almost, Maine at Seaway Valley Theatre Company (Cornwall)
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

In Central Ontario

May 26, Once Upon a Rocking Chair at Northumberland Players (Cobourg)

In Eastern Ontario

May 25, BOOM at Thousand Islands Playhouse (Gananoque) [with a preview on May 24]

In Southwestern Ontario

May 23, Oh Canada, We Sing for Thee at Port Stanley Festival Theatre
May 25, Saint John at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake)
May 25, The Ladies Foursome at Lighthouse Festival Theatre (Port Dover) [with previews from May 24]
May 25, The Changeling at Stratford Festival [in previews] 
May 26, The Madness of George III at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake) 
May 26, Beau Jest at Theatre Tillsonburg
May 26, The Drowsy Chaperone at Theatre Woodstock
May 26, The Drowsy Chaperone at Guelph Little Theatre
May 26, We're in the Army Now at Theatre Ancaster (Hamilton)
May 26, The Game’s Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays at Century Church Theatre (Hillsburgh)
May 27, 1837: The Farmers' Revolt at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake) 
May 27, Me and My Girl at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake)
May 27, Bakkhai at Stratford Festival [in previews]
May 27, Grace Mission: The Musical at Fridge Door Live Theatre Company (touring southwestern Ontario)
ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Anything to Declare? at Stage Centre Productions
Lindsay Woodford, Pierre Rivard

In Toronto

May 22, The 16th Annual Paprika Festival at Paprika Festival
May 26, Office Hours at East Side Players
May 27, Porgy and Bess in Concert at Soulpepper Theatre
For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Toronto Irish Players Awarded the Elsie for Outstanding Production at Festival 2017

Chris Irving and Elaine O'Neal in the Toronto Irish Players
production of Outside Mullingar.
Congratulations to Toronto Irish Players, whose production of Outside Mullingar by John Patrick Shanley was awarded the Elsie as Outstanding Production at Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 in Ottawa. They represented the Association of Community Theatres of Central Ontario. This is their first Elsie Award, and the first winner from ACT-CO since 2009.

The production received six awards and three honourable mentions from adjudicator Annette G. Procuner. The production also received the award for Outstanding Coordinated Production.

Ghost Light Players, from Windsor, represented the Western Ontario Drama League, presenting Better Living by George F. Walker, and received three awards and five honourable mentions.

Northumberland Players, from Cobourg, represented the Eastern Ontario Drama League, presenting Waiting for the Parade by John Murrell, and received two awards and two honourable mentions.

Sault Theatre Workshop, from Sault Ste. Marie, represented QUONTA (the northeastern Ontario community theatre association), presenting Lucy by Damien Atkins, and received two awards.

The annual Theatre Ontario Festival is a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions, a classroom for passionate, dedicated community theatre artists, a celebration of excellence in community theatre, and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province.

Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 was hosted by Ottawa Little Theatre, in partnership with Theatre Ontario and the Eastern Ontario Drama League.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

ONstage Tonight at Festival: Sault Theatre Workshop

Sault Theatre Workshop—a frequent Theatre Ontario Festival participant in the 1970s and 1980s—returns to Festival for the first time since 1998, representing QUONTA (the northeastern Ontario community theatre association) with their production of Lucy, written by Damien Atkins (our recent Playwright-in-Person at Theatre Ontario Festival 2015 in Oshawa.)

The Sault Theatre Workshop is a non-profit organization devoted to the production and promotion of live theatre in and around Sault Ste. Marie with almost 100 members. The group was founded in 1948 and as they present their 68th season of quality productions, they look back with pride on their accomplishments. They have their own building, the Studio Theatre, which is their rehearsal hall, performance space, and teaching centre. It is an intimate little theatre with a usual set-up of table and chairs with candles on the table. The table set up allows the audience the comfort to enjoy beverages and delicious homemade treats during the show. The building seats 90 with a table-and-chair set-up, or 130 with just chairs. They currently present four productions a year and host a regional festival of one-act plays at the Studio Theatre. In addition, their studio is home to their young company, Stage1, who also present several events over the year including weekly drama classes.

Sault Theatre Workshop's production of Lucy
A world-renowned and much-respected anthropologist, Vivian is most comfortable in her world of quiet solitude, balking at even the idea of interaction with the outside world. Her life is abruptly changed, however, when her ex-husband shows up and asks Vivian to take their thirteen-year-old autistic daughter, Lucy, Reluctantly, Vivian agrees, although motherhood is something that she never desired. Overwhelmed by the particulars of Lucy’s care and unable to connect with her daughter at first, Vivian soon realizes that Lucy isn’t that different from her—socially awkward, emotionally withholding, and reclusive—and slowly comes to believe that she and Lucy are the next step in the evolutionary chain. A powerful play about the relationship between mother and daughter, the power of love, and the rare moments in life when something, or someone, comes along and forces us to re-evaluate our own lives and the way we respond to the world around us.

At QUONTA Festival 2017 in Timmins, Sault Theatre Workshop won Outstanding Production, Outstanding Direction (Randi Mraud), Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role (Calista Jones as Lucy), Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role (Mark Daniher as Gavin), Outstanding Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Haggerman as Morris), and Adjudicator’s Awards for Sound Design (Michael Cuthbertson) and Set Design and Execution (Phil Jones, Fred McKey, and Rick Mooney), with nominations for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role (Catharina Warren as Vivian) and Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role (Wendylynn Levoskin as Julia.)

Friday, 19 May 2017

ONstage Tonight at Festival: Toronto Irish Players

The Toronto Irish Players return to Theatre Ontario Festival for the first time in thirty years, representing the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario (ACT-CO), presenting John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar.

Toronto Irish Players (TIP) was founded by a group of Irish immigrants in 1975 and is Toronto’s only Irish community theatre group. Over the last 42 years, they have produced more than 82 plays, connecting Toronto’s Irish community and sharing Irish heritage with audiences throughout the Greater Toronto Area. From their first performance of Kathleen Ni Houlihan by William Butler Yeats at Toronto’s Caravan in 1975, TIP have presented classic and modern works by Irish playwrights including Sean O’Casey, Hugh Leonard, Brien Friel, Bernard Farrell, Hugh Leonard, Brendan Behan, Conor McPherson, James Joyce,  and TIP member Jonathon Lynn. Their productions are presented at The Alumnae Theatre in the heart of downtown Toronto. Over forty-two years they have seen bonds created, friendships forged, immigration and emigration, and multiple generations become part of TIP. Their current membership of 80-strong welcome new members every year.

Toronto Irish Players' production of Outside Mullingar
Chris Irving and Elaine O’Neal
Outside Mullingar tells the story of Anthony and Rosemary, two introverted eccentric souls straddling 40. Anthony has spent his entire life on a farm in rural Ireland. Rosemary lives next door, determined to have him, but watching the years slip away. With Anthony's father threatening to disinherit him and a land feud simmering between their families, Rosemary has every reason to fear romantic catastrophe. The playwright, John Patrick Shanley, is best known as the winner of both the Pulitzer Prize for ‘Drama’ as well as the Tony Award for ‘Best Play’ for Doubt. He also received an Oscar for ‘Original Screenplay’ for Moonstruck.

At the ACT-CO Festival in the Comedy Category, Toronto Irish Players received awards for Best Production, Best Lighting Design (Mary Jane Boon), and an Adjuudicator’s Award for “Magic As It Only Happens in the Theatre” (The design team), with nominations for Best Director (Harvey Levkoe), Best Performance by a Male in a Leading Role (Chris Irving as Anthony), Best Set Design (Wayne Cardinalli), Best Sound Design (John McQueen).

Thursday, 18 May 2017

ONstage Tonight at Festival: Ghost Light Players

Thursday night marks our Festival “debutantes” as Ghost Light Players of Windsor presents George F. Walker’s Better Living, representing the Western Ontario Drama League (WODL).

Ghost Light Players: taking their name from the Ghost Light used to keep the stage alive and honour those that were there before, and Players like those troupes of old, as they have no urge to settle in one spot, instead they keep moving and learning and discovering. Ghost Light Players engage, inspire, challenge and entertain audiences with theatrical productions that range from classical works to new productions from local playwrights and everything in between; they are supporting and promoting their current generation of artists while paving a path for future generations from within the community; they provide artistic opportunities that promote a life-long learning to a diverse community; and are constantly celebrating the essential power of the theatre to illuminate and illustrate our common humanity. In short, creating theatre without fear!

Ghost Light Players' production of Better Living
Nora couldn't be happier. Her three daughters will all be under one roof again. Even her youngest, Gail, with her criminal boyfriend, Junior, is welcome. But as she waits for the meek Maryann and the brassy Elizabeth to return, Nora's brother Jack, a priest doubting his faith, warns her of the return of her tyrannical husband, Tom. Tom's likely to still be angry about the three times Nora and Jack have tried to kill him. Better Living was first produced by Canadian Stage Company in 1986 and in the US in 1987 by New York Stage and Film Company in association with Vassar College.

At the 2017 Western Ontario Drama League Festival in Guelph, Ghost Light Players received the D. Park Jamieson Memorial Award for Best Production in Festival, and awards for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Major Role (Michele Legere as Nora), Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Dean Valentino as Tom), Outstanding Technical Achievement, an Adjudicator’s Award for Outstanding Producing (Jeff Bastien), and an Adjudicator’s Award for Esprit de Corps, with nominations for Oustanding Direction (Jacqueline Tinus), Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Kristen Lamoure-Dias as Maryann), Best Visual Production, and Outstanding Ensemble Work.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

ONstage Tonight at Festival: Northumberland Players

For the third consecutive year, last year’s Festival Elsie Award winner for Outstanding Production returns as their regional representative. Cobourg’s Northumberland Players—who won last year’s Festival with their performance of Boeing Boeing—represents the Eastern Ontario Drama League (EODL) again with their presentation of John Murrell’s Waiting for the Parade.

This year, Northumberland Players celebrates 40 years of bringing quality theatre to its growing audiences. Over the years, they have presented more than two hundred and fifty musical and dramatic productions at venues such as the Firehall Theatre, Victoria Hall Concert Hall, the Capital Theatre in Port Hope, and the Best Western Cobourg Inn and Convention Centre among others. Last year alone, over ten thousand ticket holders attended our productions. Northumberland Players is an entirely volunteer-run organization, with responsibility for managing their home, the Firehall Theatre, a Costume House with many thousands of costumes and vintage items, and a set building space, affectionately known as the ‘Third Space’. A committed Board of Directors, over 300 volunteers and 100 members, numerous sponsors and community supporters make it possible to offer award winning theatre as well as a thriving youth program and summer camp, educational workshops for actors, directors and producers, and opportunities for local playwrights to showcase their work.

Northumberland Players' production of Waiting for the Parade
Photo by Sherwood McLernon
Waiting for the Parade by playwright John Murrell, is an award winning Canadian play that takes place in Calgary in the 1940s during WWII. With music and costumes from the era, it captures life back home as people rallied to support the war effort amid shortages and personal loss. In the play, five women battle their anxieties about the war with courage, tension, humour, and a little music. Through it all, they are waiting, waiting for the war to end and the men to return. Playwright John Murrell still lives in Alberta.  His beautifully-written play was first produced by Alberta Theatre Projects in 1977 and went on from there to play in major theatres across Canada as well as the Dominion Theatre in New York. The play won the prestigious Floyd S. Chalmers Award in 1980, the first of three Chalmers Awards for Mr. Murrell.

At EODL Full-Length Festival 2016-2017, Northumberland Players won the Leslie M. Frost Award for Best Production, Best Production of a Canadian Play, and Best Director (Brenda Worsnop), with nominations for Best Actress in a Major Role (Kirsty Bird as Catherine, and Anne-Marie Bouthillette as Marta), Best Costuming (Dawn Watters and Grace Price), and an Adjudicator’s Award (Kara Besson, Stage Management).

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

  • Deadline for nominations for Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Tom Hendry Awards is today.
  • Great Canadian Theatre Company’s The Hive in Ottawa is hosting a Playwriting and Dramaturgy workshop on May 18.
  • Deadline for applications to participate in Young People’s Theatre’s In the Moment: An Intergenerational Training Opportunity for Emerging and Experienced Actors is May 19.
  • “The Intersection: Safer / Braver Spaces” from the Paprika Festival in Toronto is on May 20.
  • Shaw Festival’s “Stage Skills for Adults: Voice and Speech” workshop is on May 26.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • The Musical Stage Company is hosting their 2nd Annual Tony Awards Viewing Party on June 11.

Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Monday, 15 May 2017

ONstage Openings for the week of May 15

ONstage Now Playing in Toronto
Man of La Mancha at Scarborough Music Theatre
This week’s openings on Ontario’s stages

May 17 - Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 hosted by Ottawa Little Theatre

In Toronto

May 17 - Onegin at The Musical Stage Company
May 17 - (re)Birth: e.e. cummings in Song at Soulpepper Theatre
May 18 - Anything to Declare? at Stage Centre Productions

In Central Ontario

May 18 - One Actmanship: My Narrator / The Death of Me at Kincardine Theatre Guild

In Eastern Ontario

May 16 - Treasure Island at Kanata Theatre (Ottawa)

In Southwestern Ontario

ONstage Now Playing in Southwestern Ontario
Fun Home at Calithumpian Theatre Company
Zoë Brown, Elena Reyes, Lo Nielsen
Photo by Jackie Nobe
May 15 - The School for Scandal at Stratford Festival [in previews]
May 18 - Marathon of Hope: The Musical at Drayton Entertainment: Dunfield Theatre Cambridge [with previews from May 15]
May 19 - Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Drayton Entertainment: Drayton Festival Theatre [with previews from May 17]
May 20 - 1979 at Shaw Festival (Niagara-on-the-Lake) [in previews]


For all the theatre playing across Ontario, visit Theatre Ontario’s ONstage theatre listings on our website

Friday, 12 May 2017

Ontario Off Stage

by Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager

Ontario Summer Theatre member Lighthouse Festival Theatre

Conversation Starters


Behind the Scenes at Ontario’s Theatres


TO Toasts


In Case You Missed It

Thursday, 11 May 2017

YAC Update: Learning from Our Network

Alex Rand and Laura Philipps at INDIE X
by Laura Philipps, Co-Chair, Youth Advisory Committee

The Theatre Ontario Youth Advisory Committee has been learning a lot in April, attending our first conferences as a group and meeting community partners.

On April 8, Co-Chairs Alex Rand and Laura Philipps attended INDIE X at 918 Bathurst Cultural Centre. We had a chance to meet other young artists in an informal setting and participate in workshops about producing, marketing and interdisciplinary collaboration. The keynote address from Marjorie Chan examined how “theatre is hard” and made us all reflect: why do we do it?

INDIE X from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts
Theatre is a space for expression, collaboration and learning. YAC member Julia Voradek Hunter works with The AMY (Artists Mentoring Youth) Project, a performing arts training program for women and non-binary youth. Their testimonial-style development process provides a space for participants to try out different identities and express themselves. Their workshop production of Almeida (the Glorious) demonstrated just how impactful theatre can be to make young people proud of their place in the world. The AMY Project is a finalist for one of the Toronto Arts Foundation Signature Awards, The Youth for Arts award to be announced May 17.

The Youth Advisory Committee is committed to increasing access to opportunities for youth interested in a career in theatre. Our network of young artists is excited for the future where all of Ontario’s youth can see themselves represented onstage. Our first task is understanding how and why some youth are not getting a chance to share their voices on stage.

Alex and Laura at "Beyond Representation"
We participated in the Modern Times Stage symposium Beyond Representation: Cultural Diversity as Theatrical Practice April 9 - 11. Helping backstage gave us a behind the scenes look at how a conference is organized. It inspired us to think creatively about the format of our event, and highlighted the essential role of a youth voice in cultural conversations. YAC member Davinder Malhi reflects:
The Beyond Representation symposium gave me a greater understanding of what diversity as practice truly means. This symposium dissected the ideas of diversity beyond traditional and stereotypical boundaries, and it challenged the participants by presenting new thoughts and ideas surrounding difference on stage. The active use of discussion through panels and presentations provided a strong foundation for further conversation and theoretical stimulation. This event was a strong launching point for the development of difference on stage, and I truly believe it left all attendees with a stronger understanding of the value and importance of diversity within the art world.
This month we are looking forward to attending Paprika Festival’s The Intersection on May 20. It will be the first youth-focused conference we attend and a chance to meet more of our peers. On the same day, YAC member Norah Paton will represent the Youth Advisory Committee at Theatre Ontario AGM in Ottawa. We hope to see you there!

Members of the Theatre Ontario Youth Advisory Committee

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Browsing Our Bulletin Board

Coming Up from Theatre Ontario

  • Theatre Ontario Festival 2017 opens on May 17 in Ottawa—featuring performances, adjudications, playwright readings, workshops, and celebrations of community theatre.
  • Answers to your FAQ’s about the business of acting at our Launching Your Career workshop with Rachel Kennedy and guest Karen Knox on May 24 in Toronto. 
  • Want to know the secrets to a successful voice acting career? Join us at our Voice Over workshop with Elley-Ray on May 27 in Toronto.
  • Summer Theatre Intensive 2017 in partnership with Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance, features week-long courses starting August 6 and August 13 for performers, directors, and playwrights. Register by June 23.
  • Learn how Google Analytics can help grow your business. Camp Tech’s most popular workshops Intermediate Google Analytics (May 23) and Intro to Google Analytics (Jun 14) can tell you how your audience is finding you, which content is getting viewed most often and help you configure simple goals for your website. Other upcoming workshops at Camp Tech are: Social Media Advanced (May 16); and Social Media Basics (Jun 6). Learn more about Theatre Ontario member discounts at CampTech through our partnership with the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts.
Check out all of our upcoming Career Stream and Creator Stream workshops.

Upcoming on The Bulletin Board

"Territorial Tales" at Canadian Stage in Toronto
  • Deadline for applications for Ontario Arts Council Indigenous Artists in Schools grants is today.
  • Canadian Stage invites applications for Territorial Tales, a creative launching pad for young storytellers ages 14-21 in Toronto. The application deadline is May 12.
  • Deadline for applications to direct at NAGs Players community theatre is May 15.
  • Convergence Theatre and Outside the March are auditioning on May 15 for “The Passionate Players Program”, an opportunity for non-professional actors to work with their professional artists and receiving training in voice, movement, character work, and script analysis. The program runs July 3 to 16.
  • Deadline for nominations for Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Tom Hendry Awards is May 16.
  • Deadline for applications to participate in Young People’s Theatre’s In the Moment: An Intergenerational Training Opportunity for Emerging and Experienced Actors is May 19.

New on The Bulletin Board

  • ArtsBuild Ontario is hosting “Using Data to Find your Renter Audience” free webinar on May 31.

Check out these items, and other postings from our members.
Theatre Ontario individual members can also access Auditions, Job Postings and Discount Ticket Offers on our Theatre Ontario Individual Member Resources on our website

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Congratulations to the Youth Theatre Training Program Spring 2017 Grant Recipients

We are excited to announce the latest recipients of training grants through Theatre Ontario’s Youth Theatre Training Program (YTTP). We thank all those who applied to the program.

$22,050 was awarded in total among the following recipients:
  • CultureLink (GTA) – Newcomer Youth Summer Theatre
  • MT Space (Kitchener-Waterloo) – MT Space Young Company: Stories to Build a Home
  • The Musical Stage Company (Toronto) – One Song Glory
  • Odyssey Theatre (Ottawa) – Youth Apprenticeship Program
  • Shadowland Theatre (Toronto / Norfolk County) – NORfolktales
  • Superior Theatre Festival (Thunder Bay) – Changing Narratives—Superior Theatre Festival’s Youth Initiatives
  • Theatre 3x60 (Durham Region) – 3x60 Youth Theatre Collective
Over $55,000 was requested during this application round. The next application deadline for this program is October 16, 2017.


This program is funded by the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.